Bizarre-Looking Orange Balls Are Placed Near Registers In Japan, Here's Their Interesting Purpose
LifeAspire Staff 7/27/2017
Shoplifting is a problem no matter what country you're in. But business owners overseas have come up with a creative and somewhat odd way to deal with it.
Shopkeepers in Japan keep brightly colored and fun-looking orange balls near the cash registers, but they aren't available for sale. In fact, they're an interesting tool they use to fight crime.
Some of the orange balls resemble neon orange baseballs with stitches imprinted upon them, but these funky orbs have been designed to battle thieves. They're called bohan yu kara boru, which means anti-crime color balls, and are readily available to shopkeepers when they spy shoplifters.
You may be asking yourself, how is a simple ball going to stop a thief? Well, it's far from your average sporting equipment - and what's hidden inside is really what does the trick. Here's how they work...
When a shopkeeper notices a theft taking place, they snatch up an orange ball (which is filled with bright orange paint) and fling it at the shoplifter. The ball hits the shoplifter and explodes, covering the alleged perpetrator with the paint. This helps police and others in pursuit to identify the criminal as he or she is sprinting away in a crowd of shoppers.
In fact, shopkeepers are advised to throw the ball near the shoplifter's feet, because the balls will shatter upon impact and splatter paint in a broad circumference, hitting the shoplifter's feet and leaving tracks behind. Shopkeepers also are told to throw the balls at a getaway vehicle, which would be easier to hit than a moving person.
While they've been around for almost a decade, they surprisingly aren't used very often. Some shopkeepers fear retaliation from the shoplifter. Others panic in the heat of the moment.
In fact, according to the National Police Agency, there were 230 store robberies after dark within a six-month period. Of those, 85.7 percent of the stores had color balls sitting at the cash register, but in only three percent of the cases did a store employee chuck the ball at the perpetrator.
However, many people are still in support of these crime balls - such as Akihiro Suwa, a public safety officer with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police.
"Even if the balls aren't actually used, that they are in the store and visible to would-be thieves helps protect the store. That's why we, and police departments around the country, ask banks and store owners to include color balls as part of their crime-prevention efforts."
Kazuo Kimura, senior manager of public relations for a convenience store chain, strongly believes in the purpose of the balls. They're in all of his company's stores.
"We have introduced coloured balls in all of our 8,500 stores, and we put signs on them so there's no mistake about what they're there for."
When the balls have been used, the results were successful. When a man robbed an agricultural cooperative and took off with a bag brimming with cash, an employee was able to hit his getaway vehicle with a colored ball. So the thief abandoned his vehicle and took off on foot. But the police found the vehicle and tracked down its owner, eventually finding the man at his home.
What's odd is that these anti-crime color balls actually were developed 20 years ago as an egg replacement for a different type of a thief. In Japan, people were blowing through toll booths without paying, so the workers would throw raw eggs at those vehicles trying to mark them for police to flag down.
But since it was a waste of food, someone developed these balls to use instead. Not only do business owners keep them handy, but so do police stations, police boxes and the Japanese Marine Self Defense Forces.
Here's an interesting simulation of how these balls are used in Japan.